Damn Good Brands

Nick Taylor, Lippe Taylor

Listen in as Nick Taylor sits down with marketers, makers, entrepreneurs and key voices of innovation in the world of brands & marketing. Each week brings relevant discussions and bite-sized insights on the topics driving shifts in marketing, branding, and advertising. Episodes also offer an insider view into the processes and best practices of founders, entrepreneurs & marketing superstars. read less
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Episodes

Origin Stories: LIQUID DEATH CEO & Co-Founder, Mike Cessario
Jan 27 2022
Origin Stories: LIQUID DEATH CEO & Co-Founder, Mike Cessario
Mike Cessario is the CEO and Founder of Liquid Death, an outrageous new canned water brand with quality mountain water engineered to murder your thirst! Liquid Death has made a name for itself as an extremely disruptive force of marketing, and the brand's outlandish marketing stunts are as refreshing as the water itself.To date, the brand has convinced 180,000 people to sell them their souls, has cursed its water with a real witch and performed a reverse exorcism with an accredited warlock that allegedly put demons into the water. Customers who purchased during this time period were entitled to a coupon for $1 off any exorcism (yes, this is all for real). Recently, to further raise awareness of plastic pollution in the oceans, Liquid Death released a series of plush marine animal stuffed toys called Cutie Polluties that were bloodied and choked with plastic garbage. Additionally, as you can imagine, this is a brand whose unholy approach to marketing inspires a lot of controversy and hate, which is why Liquid Death took their favorite angry online comments and turned them into lyrics for their own death metal album.Liquid Death also has a very compelling mission, which is to eradicate the over-use of plastic bottles. According to their website, the average aluminum can contains over 70% recycled material, whereby the average plastic bottle contains only 3%. Additionally, aluminum cans are infinitely recyclable, and of all the aluminum produced since 1888, over 75% of it is still in current use. Plastic, on the other hand, technically isn't even recyclable in the first place because it costs so much money to melt it down, sending most of it into landfills and into the ocean. The planet has been overrun by plastic pollution, and Liquid Death is here to do something about it, which is why 10% of profits from every can sold help kill plastic pollution.Prior to founding Liquid Death, Mike worked in marketing with companies like Vayner Media and worked on multiple viral promotions for Netflix on series like "House of Cards," "Stranger Things," and "Narcos." The entrepreneurial origin story behind Liquid Death is extremely inspirational and a real testament to how putting passion, fun, and personality into a brand can make it into a formidable gamechanger. We get into all of this on this very special episode of Damn Good Brands Origin Stories.Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Mike Cessario.Throw the rules away. The world of branding is silently governed by a list of archaic rules that dictate what you can and can't do - if you want a groundbreaking brand, it's time to stop playing by these rules. During his advertising years, Mike asked himself why products, specifically in CPG, had to play by these bland and boring 1950's rules, which entertainment brands were never at the mercy of. As a result, Liquid Death's marketing is brash, violent, occasionally foul-mouthed, and extremely controversial, but as a result, it has a rabid fan base because it's so fun and different. So whether you're starting a new brand or want to do something different with an existing one, consider throwing out the puritanical rule book that's been governing the world of CPG for decades and do something new.Ideas don't sell. Proof sells. After coming up with the idea of Liquid Death, instead of running straight towards investors, Mike decided to prove the product's viability in a low-risk manner by producing a commercial for the product before it even existed. The commercial was completely insane, became instantly viral, and Mike set up a Facebook page to gauge interest and found that there was a serious amount of demand for his product. He was even pitched by stores like 7-11. Mike then took this data, made a pitch deck, and was off to the races with investors. Had Mike walked into a boardroom with the idea for a mountain water with...
Origin Stories: SWAG.com CEO Jeremy Parker on the Startup Hustle and Lessons Learned from Jessie Itzler & David Goggins
Apr 22 2021
Origin Stories: SWAG.com CEO Jeremy Parker on the Startup Hustle and Lessons Learned from Jessie Itzler & David Goggins
Jeremy Parker is the Co-founder and CEO of Swag.com, the eCommerce platform for purchasing promotional materials that people actually want to keep. When you think of the promotional products industry, you might think of cheaply made items you pickup conferences only to eventually throw away. Or, god forbid you've ever had to order promotional products yourself and are aware of the nightmare of dealing with shipping inquiries, quality issues, and all manner of inconvenience synonymous with that industry. Swag.com's mission is to take the pain out of ordering customized promotional material with a focus on high quality, frictionless ordering, and seamless distribution. Swag.com launched in 2016 and has since become the fastest-growing company in the promotional product space. Inc. magazine recently included the company on its list of fastest-growing companies in the country. Swag.com’s thousands of customers include corporate giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, and TikTok. In this conversation, Jeremy discusses the founding of Swag.com, what he learned from pivotal mentors, and how he was able to observe and utilize Uber's inventory-free model to great success. Observe the Uber model of curation organization and obliterating friction.The foundation of SWAG.com was born out of the constant frustration most people have when ordering branded items for their companies or clients. Something as simple as branded t-shirts or water bottles can be a nightmarish process consisting of hours of research, waiting around for samples to arrive, comparing price quotes, etc. And even then, quality is never guaranteed. Instead of starting their own custom branding company from scratch, Swag.com yielded the Uber model of brokering, whereby they found and vetted a series of high-quality and trusted custom merchandise providers and created a network of them that they would dispatch orders to through their e-commerce platform. This allowed them to move fast and operate on a large scale, all with a very lean company structure. Pound the pavement. When he was just starting out with Swag.com, Jeremy landed an enormous client right out of the gate, Facebook. How did he get Facebook? It wasn't from months of cold calling and emailing and asking for a meeting; no, he showed up at their office. By inserting his own foot in the door, decision-makers met with him and ultimately signed on to be his client. This caused a social proof domino effect because once he announced that he had a titan like Facebook as a client, WeWork and Netflix jumped on board next and the snowball for Swag.com was very much set in motion. Clearly, showing up at someone's office without an appointment doesn't always work, and you're likely to be turned away but, if you do it enough times, who knows, you may be surprised at who will take an impromptu meeting with you and what it can lead to.Surround yourself with greatness. In his earlier years, Jeremy worked very closely with Jessie Itzler, serial entrepreneur, social media personality,self-development guru, and husband to Spanx founder Sara Blakely. Jeremy's time with Jessie was incredibly formidable for his work ethic, entrepreneurial sensibility, intelligence, and overall hustle. If that wasn't enough, Jeremy got to spend a great deal of time with David Goggins; ex-Navy SEAL, motivational speaker, and downright badass in every sense of the word. The combination of these two mentors imbued Jeremy with innate entrepreneurial intelligence and a...
Social & Communications Trends with MUCK RACK & SHORTY AWARDS CEO, Greg Galant
Nov 19 2020
Social & Communications Trends with MUCK RACK & SHORTY AWARDS CEO, Greg Galant
For today’s episode, I sat down for the second time with Greg Galant, co-founder, and CEO of Muck Rack. A lot has changed in the year since we last spoke. Muck Rack was already important to PR specialists and journalists, but with the onset of the pandemic, they’ve seen their use by journalists explode, with their online portfolio tool now being used over a million times per month.  Journalists are also benefiting from the release of Muck Rack Trends, which allows users to track how stories are being reported in the media in real-time.Greg is also the founder of the Shorty Awards for social media and the Shorty Social Good Awards, which has developed into a master class on cause campaigns. Today, having a social purpose is the cost of admission for brands, and it goes way beyond the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of years past. Greg believes that “Social good is the only marketing that matters now.” The companies that thrive over the long run now will be those that successfully pivot to having a mission.Greg and I caught up on new and exciting trends in social media, how he and his companies have weathered and thrived during the storm of COVID19 and what to expect from this year’s Shorty Social Good Awards. I always enjoy speaking to Greg; he is deeply steeped in the worlds of social media and communications and is overall a dynamic and fascinating entrepreneur who never seems to stop hustling. To my delight, Greg also recently re-launched his podcast Venture Voice and kicked it off with an interview with none other than Mark Cuban. So definitely be sure to check out Greg’s podcast Venture Voice and please enjoy this wide-ranging conversation with Greg Galant.-----Produced by Simpler Media
Origin Stories: Dave Phinney, ORIN SWIFT Founder, Rockstar of Wine
Jul 23 2020
Origin Stories: Dave Phinney, ORIN SWIFT Founder, Rockstar of Wine
In less than 10 years, Dave Phinney has become the undisputed rock star of California’s wine world. Have you ever seen a wine label in a liquor store that made you go 'holy shit!'? It was probably one of Dave’s. Have you ever tasted a California red blend that made you go 'holy shit!'? Also probably one of Dave’s. Having apprenticed under Robert Mondavi, Dave worked his way up the wine chain, ultimately starting his own Napa Valley brand, Orin Swift Cellars. After selling his runaway-hit debut wine, The Prisoner, to Constellation Brands, Dave continued releasing multiple wines that pushed boundaries for their unique flavor profiles and beautiful & edgy branding. After spending years building this portfolio of best-selling and award winning wines, Dave sold off his brands and assets to E. J. Gallo. One of his more recent ventures is Savage & Cooke, a distillery he recently founded, set between San Francisco and Napa Valley - through Savage & Cooke Dave is producing spirits labels that include The Burning Chair Bourbon, Second Glance American Whiskey (my personal favorite), Lip Service Rye, and Ayate Tequila. We cover a lot of ground in this conversation and Dave seriously over-delivered on the entrepreneurial advice and insight. I had to listen to this a few times to get a grasp on everything because there is so much to learn here.  We hear all about Dave’s origin story as a struggling wine maker all the way to the building of his wine empire, as well as his creative process, and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. All of this, and so much more on today’s special episode of DAMN GOOD BRANDS: Origin Stories.    Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Dave Phinney:    Heed the 10 percent rule. A piece of advice that Dave got early in the process was, that if ten percent of people hate your guts, you’re doing something right. Dave was told by countless people that his ideas were silly, outlandish and would not translate in the wine industry. Comedy cut to 10 years later he’s one of the most avant garde and successful innovators in the history of wine. Dave knew that if he heeded conventional wisdom he would have a conventional product, so, he chose to excite himself first, because he knew that if he excited himself with his products, he’d excite his customers. Clearly, this paid off, but of course, there were haters. You aren’t going to break any new ground without offending someone or without people thinking you’re at least a little bit crazy. This is a good thing, and a sign you’re onto something groundbreaking.   Don’t try to compete within your industry, compete across multiple industries. When Dave was developing his wine brand, he decided not to compete within the wine category, instead he wanted for the brand to compete within the worlds of fashion, art, and music, and other cultural staples instead. He went out to immerse himself in as much culture as he could; within streetwear, fashion, art, music, skater culture, you name it. Because of this, Dave’s wines are reminiscent of all of these things and stand out in their category because they're striking anomalies in a sea of sameness. This is transcendent branding. Brands that challenge themselves to compete outside of their category not only avoid stagnation but earn an indelible place in culture, as opposed to temporary market share or share of voice within their vertical.   It has to hit you in the face. I am particularly fascinated with Dave’s creative process,  when you look at the elegance of the wine labels, you can tell that a lot of thought went into each one of them - one thing Dave touched on that struck me as really interesting, was when he was talking about how he would turn to foreign magazines for inspiration - when doing so, he would flip through these magazines really quickly. Reason being: if something
Origin Stories: Joel Clark, KODIAK CAKES, CEO - from Shark Tank to Fastest Growing Pancake Mix
Jun 26 2020
Origin Stories: Joel Clark, KODIAK CAKES, CEO - from Shark Tank to Fastest Growing Pancake Mix
Welcome to DAMN GOOD BRANDS Origin Stories! A new series dedicated to uncovering the entrepreneurial journeys behind some of today’s most successful brands straight from the founders themselves. Today we’re talking to Joel Clark, the co-founder, and CEO of Kodiak Cakes. In addition to being a client, Kodiak Cakes is an all-natural food company based in Utah that specializes in pancake mix. Their product also includes other healthy snacks like bars, oatmeal, and more.The story behind Kodiak Cakes is very inspiring since the company struggled for over a decade before becoming a huge success. Kodiak Cakes started when Joel sold his family recipe pancake mix door to door in a little red wagon as a child.  He basically kept on going until the brand became a success. There may be a little more to the story than that, so I’ll let Joel tell it. The story behind the brand is a long road of struggles that end in glory as the brand is the fastest-growing pancake mix brand in the US, growing 80% year on year and approaching $100 million in revenue.The critical moment for Kodiak Cakes was with the introduction of Power Cakes; a super healthy, super hearty pancake mix that included protein powder. Power Cakes really enabled the brand to breakthrough in the market place and the story behind its inception is a real lesson in pivoting and product innovation, and even to a degree, a Blue Ocean Strategy. You may have seen Power Cakes on Shark Tank where, despite receiving offers, Joel walked away empty-handed. The resulting coverage from the appearance, however, gave Kodiak Cakes a significant boost in sales, and today the brand is on the fast track to becoming a household name.We talked to Joel about the grueling path to success, major leadership lessons, and tips to boost your resilience in the face of the inevitable adversity that comes with entrepreneurship. All this and so much more on today’s episode of Damn Good Brands. Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Joel Clark.  Get experience selling door to door (or at least making cold calls). Joel began Kodiak Cakes by selling the recipe door to door as a child. This may seem like a cute story but it instilled in him some very important skills. A number of notable entrepreneurs & business leaders have a background in door-to-door sales including Paul Mitchell and Patrón founder, John Paul Dejoria, who used to sell encyclopedias. The nature of semi-confrontational sales tactics like selling door to door and cold calls forces you to master a number of skills that will tremendously serve you as an entrepreneur; it forces you to learn to build instant rapport, have a tight and compelling elevator pitch, and embrace discomfort. Perhaps most importantly, these sales tactics also instill a sense of resilience, as salesmen have to take a lot of rejection, as do entrepreneurs.  Set goals. With something as daunting as launching a national brand, it’s very instinctual for most people to get overwhelmed by the largeness of the task and either give up or be driven to analysis paralysis. As Reverend Desmond Tutu said, 'the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time,' meaning that even the most daunting tasks in life can be accomplished gradually by taking one step at a time.  As he was building Kodiak Cakes, Joel would set six-month goals for himself, and depending on whether he hit them, he’d decide whether or not to move forward with the business. Of course, he kept hitting them, and the incremental progress launched Kodiak Cakes into a very successful place.  Focus on the little wins. During the many difficulties and dark nights of the soul that come with launching a successful brand, Joel would focus on the fan mail he’d receive from happy
Benton Crane on The Squatty Potty Unicorn and Engineering Virality with Humor
Jan 30 2020
Benton Crane on The Squatty Potty Unicorn and Engineering Virality with Humor
Here are some of the main takeaways from our visit with Benton Crane, CEO of Provo, Utah-based Harmon Brothers The most effective creative collaboration starts in a vacuum. Benton said that, in every Harmon Brothers project, four writers are tasked with writing four separate initial scripts. No exchanging notes, no bouncing ideas off one another. Then, the client is called in for a reading of each script. Until this moment, no higher-up in the agency has seen or weighed in on any of them. This may seem like a huge risk, but the clients love it because it allows them to get involved in the raw creative process, resulting in a superior final product that is closer to what they want. Test EVERYTHING. Every Harmon Brothers campaign undergoes an insane amount of testing - for instance, in the conceptualization stage, the initial script is read to 10 semi-disinterested people. During the reading, their facial reactions are captured on video. A scorecard referred to as a "laugh graph" correlates the reactions to each part of the script in order to gauge whether it's a hit or not. Learn from Pixar and Create a Brain Trust. Harmon Brothers operates a Pixar-style creative brain trust that exists in part to identify weaknesses in the scripts, storyboards, and shoots. Benton said this group never overrides the agency’s quintet of creative directors but do offer constructive feedback for them to ponder and utilize (or not). This concept was borrowed from Pixar who operates similarly. You can learn more by reading Ed Catmull’s pinnacle book, CREATIVITY INC.  Learn REAL Storytelling Structures like Joseph Cambell’s Hero’s Journey. Benton spoke about how humans are hard-wired to pay lasting attention to stories featuring a protagonist on a quest. He said the hero’s journey formula is a solid-gold framework to approach ad-writing with because no other archetypal structure makes as deep of an emotional connection with audiences. However, in Harmon Brothers ads, the viewers are positioned as the hero INSTEAD of the product. Instead, the product is the ‘sword that slays the dragon’ or the bridge stands between them and the prize—typically a happier life.  Thank you for listening to Damn Good Brands, don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen! Key LinksBenton Crane LinkedIn pageHarmon Brothers website From Poop To Gold: The Marketing Magic of Harmon Brothers by Chris Jones Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald MillerSquatty Potty adPoo-Pourri ad-----Produced by Simpler Media
Exciting Shifts in Social Media with CEO of Muck Rack and The Shorty Awards, Greg Galant
Oct 1 2019
Exciting Shifts in Social Media with CEO of Muck Rack and The Shorty Awards, Greg Galant
Our guest today is Greg Galant. He is one of the minds behind the Shorty Awards, which is a highly popular digital awards ceremony that showcases groundbreaking short-form digital and social media content across all major platforms.Key Links for GregWebsite for Shorty Awards Greg’s LinkedIn page Muck Rack website Facebook News Feed Eradicator  The book that Greg recommends: High Output Management by Andrew Grove ----In this episode, Greg shares how the origins and early days of Twitter and other early platforms necessitated the rise of the Shorty Awards and his career in the field.Greg talks about a wide array of topics including how powerful a work-from-home office dynamic can be, the importance of actively listening to customers and fans, the most effective initiatives for social good, influencer marketing, ways to stay productive despite constant social media bombardment, and much more. ----In This Episode: The origin story of the Shorty Awards and Muck Rack. The largest shifts in social media according to Greg. How social good has taken over social media in popularity. How to properly approach social good as a brand. The unique workplace culture of Greg’s companies. The benefits of a work-from-home company. On influencer-driven marketing: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Tools that Greg uses to minimize time wasted on social media and increased productivity.  Key Takeaways From This Episode of the Damn Good Brands Podcast Greg thinks that one of the largest changes in social media since he first started in the field is just the sheer amount of platforms that are out there now. Sure, social media is still volatile, and platforms fold, but the digital infrastructure is much vaster. When talking about the exciting things that brands are doing differently now on social media, Greg says that user-generated content is much more prevalent. This means that many brands are actively listening to customers or fans and creating a bottom-up experience instead of the isolated and contrived top-down dynamic of years prior. The best campaigns for social good come from a deep understanding of whatever initiative for social good is being showcased. Many companies build strong social good campaigns by actively listening to the community it serves and addressing any disconnect between conception and execution of any drive for social good. Influencers are the new athletes for marketing products. Just like Michael Jordan used to drive Nike shoe sales, so too influencers are marketing products in a similar way using their social media clout instead. Many businesses need to remind themselves that their work with influencers needs to incorporate the unique personality and creativity of the...